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Cooking with coffee

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Coffee sauces and marinades

A nice hot cup of coffee is the perfect morning eye opener, but this dark heady brew can be used for more than just drinking. Coffee has a special affinity for meats and is an ideal ingredient for marinades and sauces. Use your favorite coffee to add a delicious flavor component to dinner and enjoy that fresh brewed cup in a whole new way.

Coffee Beans

Tips for cooking with coffee

1. Pair coffee with strong flavors

Coffee grounds will boost the flavor of most meats, like beef, pork or chicken. Coffee is very strong and flavorful and, consequently, should be paired with other strong flavors.

2. Use coffee like a spice

Coffee rubs, marinades and sauces add a delectable complexity to grilled meats, but coffee can also punctuate its distinctive taste into soups and stews and even tomato sauce. Think of using coffee as a spice, like you would use any other spice.

3. Try coffee in its different forms

Coffee can be used in both in its ground and brewed forms. Ground coffee is good for rubs and marinades while brewed coffee works well with stews or sauces. When something is not going to be cooked, opt to use brewed coffee because grounds tend to stay grainy in a sauce or marinade.

4. Get creative with coffee

If you have favorite flavor of coffee you like to drink, incorporate it into your meals. If you want to experiment with a new type or flavor, taste it first as a cup of brewed coffee to understand its flavor components. As a rule, most coffees pair well with citrus, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, garlic and salt. If you choose a flavored coffee, add other ingredients with similar flavors to your marinade or sauce.

Recipes for coffee rubs, sauces & marinades

Coffee BBQ Sauce

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup coffee, freshly brewed
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Saute garlic in olive oil until just lightly browned in a medium pot. Pour vinegars into pot and cook, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes to blend the ingredients. Remove sauce from heat and strain through a fine sieve. Serve hot or room temperature.

Coffee and Cocoa Rubbed Ribs

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground coffee
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 pounds beef or pork ribs
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Combine chili powder, coffee, paprika, brown sugar, mustard, salt, black pepper, cocoa powder and oregano in a bowl.

2. Brush ribs with olive oil and then season both sides with salt and pepper. Rub spice mixture onto both sides of ribs.

3. Place on a preheated grill. Cook 8 to 9 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes. Serve with Coffee BBQ Sauce (recipe above).

Coffee Marinated Steak

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup peanut sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds sirloin steak

Directions:
1. Saute peanuts in butter for 20 seconds. Add onion and garlic and saute 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Combine coffee with peanut sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire, and peanut mixture in a bowl.

3. Place steak in a bowl and pour half the marinade over it. Saving the rest for cooking. Chill and let marinate for 6 to 8 hours or overnight, flipping a few times.

4. When ready to serve, preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove steak from marinade and place steak on grill. Cook steak, marinating often, until desired degree of doneness. Let rest before cutting.

More eye-opening coffee recipes

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